Guest blogger: Joe Barone

Today’s Pulse article is written by Joe Barone, and is entitled “A Desire to be Made Whole.”

Magdala, Israel is located 3 miles north of Tiberias and was a major 1st century port on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. This ancient Jewish port was a center of trade and commerce as well as a frequent exporter of salted fish to markets as distant as Europe.  The fact that it was the home town of Mary Magdalene was the primary contributor to Magdala’s fame right up to the 21st century. According to Biblical accounts, Mary Magdalene was present at Jesus’ crucifixion and the first witness to His Resurrection. Just 14 years ago, in 2009, an ancient synagogue ruin was discovered at Magdala by archaeologists, making this a Holy Land tour stop and a pilgrimage destination. Jesus often visited and taught at this unearthed 1st century synagogue during His three years of ministry.

Completed in 2014 and located near the synagogue ruins is the Duc In Altum Church.  Its name is derived from Latin, “put out into the deep” (Luke 5:4), and refers to Jesus’ instruction to fisherman Simon Peter. One of the most visually striking, beautiful churches in the Holy Land, Duc In Altum is composed of the main boat chapel, four smaller mosaic chapels and an atrium dedicated to women. The building is dedicated to the public life of Jesus around the Sea of Galilee and in honor of the women who followed in the Savior’s footsteps and who lived by faith.

At one of the four mural adorned chapels, our group paused for a time of worship, reflection and prayer. The stunning mural, located behind a simple altar table, depicted the hand of an unseen woman reaching out to touch the fringe of Jesus’ tunic near His feet. She was thinking, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well” (Matthew 9:20-22).  This desperate woman was experiencing a hemorrhaging condition (excessive bleeding) that persisted unabated for 12 years. Her investment of time and money seeking doctors’ help, as well as trying countless medicinal formulas, only resulted in failure. Her bleeding condition persisted, and she became poorer due to the crippling expenses incurred.

To make matters worse, a woman afflicted such as this was considered ceremonially and socially unclean, condemned for touching anyone or anything (Leviticus 15:25-27). This woman, desiring to seek out Jesus, risked the humiliation and embarrassment of public exposure. Despite her bashfulness and reluctance to be in public places, for fear of causing others to be made unclean by her touch, she did the unthinkable. She sought after Jesus, the Miracle Worker who she had heard of. But she approached Jesus secretly, crawling amidst the crowd encircling Jesus. Fearing exposure, this stricken woman did not openly ask Jesus to heal her, dreading condemnation for touching Jesus and thereby causing Him to be made unclean.

Jesus, feeling her touch and the power go out from him, called her forth from hiding. She approached Jesus with fear and trembling and was greeted by these words, “And He said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace” (Luke 8:48, KJV). Jesus responded this way to announce to her and the others at the scene that her unseen affliction was indeed healed and she was no longer to be a social outcast or considered unclean.

Thoroughly touched by this woman’s faith, I sat in this chapel with tears in my eyes. Reaching out and touching Jesus with the hope of being healed of my affliction, my sins, requires an act of faith. Faith in His power to forgive. Faith in His compassion. Faith in His mercy. Any fear or embarrassment I have in approaching Him is but selfish pride, being more in love with myself and my self-image than knowing and experiencing Jesus’ love for me. Putting aside those fears of being considered a sinful outcast and replacing those fears with a spirit of determination, resolved to approach Jesus in faith, allows Him to lovingly and mercifully touch me to make me whole.

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